Standing outside an EV charging station yesterday, Congressman Jim Himes and State Senator Will Haskell lauded Westport for leading efforts in sustainability.
Fresh from congressional passage of a sweeping climate change bill, Himes noted that the new legislation, plus partnerships between public and private sectors like Connecticut-based EV charging company JuiceBar, can have a great impact on carbon reduction.
Congressman Jim Himes discusses Westport’s role in sustainability, at the Westport Library. Also taking part (from left): State Senator Will Haskell, Juice Bar chief strategy officer Paul Vosper, 2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, and Library director Bill Harmer.
Speaking of homes: William Raveis realtors usually drive clients around Westport, showing off the town.
Now they’re looking for bicycle riders and walkers. They invite everyone — longtime residents, newcomers, homeowners, renters, young, old) — to the 2022 Ride + Walk (September 18, Calf Pasture Park, Norwalk.
The event includes two2 bike rides (12 and 24 miles), a 5K walk (or run), and a 100-yard dash for kids.
Sign up as part of the “Way to Go Westport” (as a Westport office participant), or form your own team. Click here to register, and for more details.
All proceeds go directly to the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
And finally … on this day in 1979, Stephen Biko was arrested at a police roadblock under South Africa’s Terrorism Act. He died from injuries suffered during the arrest. His death brought important attention to the nation’s apartheid policies.
The reader says: “#6 Ulbrick has been unoccupied for 10 years, and abandoned by the absentee owner investor (GLAD Enterprises LLC, a PO Box in Southport).
“The interior is uninhabitable, and the last renter was hospitalized with a mold- driven infection. The interior is rodent-infested, with a huge hole in the ceiling where a chandelier fell.
“I am a bit mystified that the abutting property owners have been rather docile. One person said she ‘likes the peace and quiet.’
“This is a direct result of mortgage fraud. The 2 existing mortgages (one of which was fraudulently obtained) have a combined loan amount that exceeds what the property is worth. As a result, the chances of this parcel changing hands on the real estate market is nil, unless one of the banks forgives the loan (which is highly unlikely).
“The Blight Commission is still mulling this over.”
State Senator (and Staples High School graduate) Will Haskell addressed the Westport Rotary Club yesterday, at Greens Farms Congregational Church.
Haskell, who is finishing his 2nd and final term in the State Legislature, offered details of the state’s recent $600 million tax cut, which includes a $125 million child tax credit and a cap on the property tax for cars.
Other topics included Connecticut’s clean air and environmental initiatives, and the push for expanded abortion services. Future goals for the state government include alleviating traffic and slow commuter train times. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)
State Senator Will Haskell at yesterday’s Rotary Club meeting. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
And finally … on this date in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon. Ten others have followed. The last 2 — Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt — made the journey in 1972.
Posted onMay 22, 2022|Comments Off on Roundup: WTF Trifecta, Y’s Men, Clinical Trials …
Sustainability — and Wakeman Town Farm — are non-partisan, apolitical efforts.
But WTF was swarming with Democrats yesterday.
The Democratic Women of Westport organized a half-day program for adults and children. It was part of the Farm’s “Giving Trifecta Program.” The community service, education and donation effort is open to organizations, clubs and business of all sizes.
WTF staff work with each group to design an experience that educates volunteers on a specific sustainability-related topic, and provides participants with community service hours. Programs could include beekeeping, composting, the Pollinator Pathway and Gardens, animal husbandry or restoring the pond.
In return, organizations make a donation from the Farm’s Wishlist. Funds replenish items necessary to keep the farm running.
Saturday morning saw Congressman Jim Himes, State Senator Will Haskell, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and State Senate candidate Ceci Maher all got their hands dirty — and learned a lot.
“06880” looks forward to highlighting the efforts of other “Giving Trifecta” groups — of any political party, or none at all.
Taking a break at Wakeman Town Farm yesterday are (standing from left): WTF co-chair Bill Constantino, Ceci Maher, Will Haskell, Jim Himes, Dominique Johnson, Front: Jessica Hill, Allyson Stollenwerck
In 1989, the Westport Garden Club created a garden at Earthplace. They’ve maintained it ever since, renovating it in 2015 to feature more native plants to sustain bees, butterflies, birds and all pollinators. The garden was part of the Pollinator Pathway long before that concept became popular.
In early April the club learned that a large oil tank underneath the garden had to be replaced. Members scrambled to save as many plants as possible. Many found their way to the club’s annual plant sale.
The tank was removed on April 18. A new garden was planned, aligning with both the club and Earthplace’s missions to build passion and respect for the natural world and a more sustainable future for our community.
It was Selectwomens Day at the Y’s Men on Thursday. The group heard from 2 leaders — Westport’s Jen Tooker and Weston’s Samantha Nestor. Both spoke frankly about the challenges they face. Both were elected in November.
Tooker says she is focused on 5 issues: traffic, recreation (particularly Longshore), strengthening downtown, addressing stream management and flood mitigation, and creating a safe, comfortable and diverse community for all.
Nestor said that Weston is at an inflection point. It is a bedroom community with a minimal commercial grand list, with schools as the most common asset. They are “top notch,” but need capital investment. She hopes to resolve that contentious issue this year. Her major challenge is upgrading the town’s infrastructure.
To hear both women, and the Q-and-A that followed, click below.
Matthew Jordan is a Staples High School senior (and recent honoree with a Moffly Media “Light a Fire” award, for his work with Kids in Crisis).
Before he heads to Georgetown University, Matt’s senior internship this spring is with Medidata. The company develops and markets software for clinical trials.
His project involves enrolling patients who are interested in receiving information about enrolling in upcoming trials. His goal for the week is 800 registries.
Matt says, “I’ve learned how important it is to get an accurate representation of the population in clinical trials. We are trying to flip the ‘last resort’ stereotype of clinical trials to being more of a great first-choice option. Sometimes they can be lifesavers.”
To help Matt reach his goal of 800 registries — and learn about clinical trials that may help your health — click here.
Very quietly, CLASP Homes serves adults with intellectual disabilities. Their group homes — 4 in Westport, 8 others and 9 apartments throughout Fairfield County, plus a day program in Bridgeport — provide community, stability, jobs and fulfilling lives to men and women from their 20s to 82.
I’ve featured their fundraiser — the very popular eat-and-drink “Taste of Westport” (June 15, 6 p.m., Inn at Longshore) — before.
Today the spotlight shines on their new website. It was constructed thanks to a grant from another great local non-profit: Near & Far Aid. To see the end result of these 2 organizations working together, click here. (Pro tip: You can find out more about “Taste of Westport” there too.)
And finally … Rosmarie Trapp died last week in Vermont, at 93.
She was a member of the von Trapp singing family made famous by “The Sound of Music.”
You may not recognize her name. She is not in the play or movie, because “The Sound of Music” focused on the 7 children Georg von Trapp had with his first wife — not with Rosmarie’s mother, a governess who later married the baron.
But she did did travel and perform with the Trapp Family Singers for years, including at the lodge in Stowe. Click here for the full obituary.
Comments Off on Roundup: WTF Trifecta, Y’s Men, Clinical Trials …
He still had not graduated from Georgetown University.
Now he’s completing his 2nd term in Hartford. He’s the author of a new book: 100,000 First Bosses: My Unlikely Path as a 22-Year-Old Lawmaker.
And he’s the latest guest on “06880: The Podcast.”
The unlikely politician, writer, and 2014 Staples High School graduate spoke candidly — and spectacularly articulately — with me at the Westport Library about his path since graduation. He also talked about what’s ahead when he “retires” from the General Assembly.
Click below for a fascinating half hour with one of Westport’s most intriguing citizens, of any age.
The northeast corner of the office building complex at 55 Greens Farms Road — the one that seems oddly out of place, next to Assumption Cemetery between Hillspoint and Hales Roads — may be the site of Westport’s next cell tower.
The site is an alternate for previous discussions about a tower at 92 Greens Farms Road. Both were proposed by Tarpon Towers and AT&T.
Construction at the office complex would involve a wetland crossing. It will be reviewed by the Westport Conservation Commission on January 31. A public information session is set for February 8 to discuss the 2 locations. Both meetings will be held virtually.
With COVID still hanging around, health and wellness is more important than ever.
WestportMoms just released their 2022 Health &Wellness guide.
They say: “Whether you need new motivation for working out, new ideas for what to cook each night, some CBD to help you sleep, or even someone to help you organize that closet or garage, we have you covered.”
Referring to fellow moms, they add: “We spent 2020 and 2021 making sure everyone else was feeling ok. Now it’s your turn!”
It sounds like a ho-hum affair: the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Zoning Regulation Revision Subcommittee meets tomorrow (Wednesday, January 5, 12 noon, Zoom).
But their agenda is filled with interesting — and important — items.
They’ll discuss text amendments on these topics:
A tree regulation, intended to balance the right of people to use their property as they wish, with a desire to save mature trees. This item is not about specific properties. Input has been sought from developers and preservationists.
Amending open space regulations to permit certain organized activities in areas like Baron’s South and Riverside Avenue park. Right now, no such activities are allowed — not even (for example) an organized hike for children, followed by story time.
Amending downtown regulations to modify current prohibitions on single-tenant occupancy exceeding 10,000 square feet. This would permit more flexibility for downtown merchants.
Amending downtown regulations to remove remove current prohibitions on retail uses above the first floor. Current regulations allow studios and offices, for example, on 2nd and 3rd stories, but not retail. (Stores like the Gap have been grandfathered in.) This would provide more retail options, at potentially lower rents, and also allow current merchants to expand their operations.
Exempting “art” from coverage calculations. This would have the potential to allow more sculptures and other artworks in outdoor spaces.
All of these are discussion items only.
Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting can also be accessed by phone (646-876-9923; Meeting ID: 823 0856 3966; Passcode: 441250). It will be archived later on www.westportct.gov.
Public comments prior to the meeting can be sent to PandZ@westportct.gov for consideration by the subcommittee, but will not be read aloud at the meeting.
In most of downtown, retail is not permitted above the 2nd floor. The Gap was grandfathered in.
State Senator Will Haskell will not seek re-election.
Just 25 years old, but already in his 2nd term representing Westport and Weston (and 6 other towns) in the 26th District, the youngest member of the General Assembly plans to attend law school. He also recently announced his engagement to former Staples High School classmate Katie Cion.
Since his election in November 2018, Haskell has served as chair of the Higher Education & Employment Advancement and Transportation Committees, and on numerous others. He cites as his proudest accomplishments the creation of Connecticut’s free community college program; passing “the most inclusive paid family and medical leave program in the country,” and a sustained focus on transportation infrastructure investments.
A small, private memorial service for Dick Berkowitz — the longtime civic volunteer who died New Year’s Eve — is set for this Sunday (January 9, 10 a.m.). Though attendance is limited, the service will be livestreamed, and available to his many friends and admirers. Click here for the link.
139 Main Street — the former site of Jack Willis — has been sold. A California-based owner/user is redeveloping the 3,400-square foot building for Brochu Walker, an :upscale women’s apparel brand that specializes in conscious luxury retail with a European flair.” They follows a “’kinder to the environment’ initiative” that supports “sustainability efforts resulting in ethically sourced, luxurious fibers.” Brochu Walker expects to open its first boutique in the Northeast early this year.
Connecticut has taken a national lead in empowering youth voices.
Now Staples has taken a lead in making it happen.
This morning, the high school welcomed Governor Ned Lamont, Congressman Jim Himes and State Senator Will Haskell. They, and 2 members of the state Department of Education, outlined a new $1.5 million program — part of the national American Rescue Plan — that allocates $20,000 to 85 schools. Current students propose ideas for their building, then vote on which one to implement.
Then the adults sat back and listened, to a dozen student ideas.
Westport Schools Superintendent Thomas Scarice (far right) greets Governor Ned Lamont. Also at the event (from left): Congressman Jim Himes, State Senator Will Haskell and Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas.
Himes noted that while the federal government works “at scale” — allocating $6 trillion in COVID relief — it can’t understand the needs of individual communities. That’s where the “Voice4Change” program comes in.
It was an intriguing morning. Lamont, Himes and Haskell addressed the Staples students as intelligent, involved people. They did not talk down or pander; they did not try to score political points, often pointing out the bipartisan nature of COVID relief funds. They listened and took notes.
Lamont did give props to Connecticut as “an entrepreneur factory.” Why, he wondered, can’t some entrepreneurial ideas come from students?
“I’m all ears,” he said.
Governor Lamont at the podium.
Among the ideas: strengthened school security, including ID cards for student access to the building, and metal detectors; installing solar panels in the parking lot, as at Fairfield Warde High; and enhanced ties between Staples and neighboring, less affluent school districts.
Proposals are due to the state Department of Education by January 9. Each school will have its own ballot, for voting on March 11.
First Selectwoman Jen Tooker offered to mentor students who have ideas. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice challenged them to find sources to match the $20,000.
Staples High School students listen to ideas for Voice4Change.
Lamont had to leave for another engagement. But Himes, Haskell, the state Education reps, and town officials stuck around to chat.
It was a tossup who was more inspired: the students, or them.
Staples High School senior Natalie Bandura is the high school representative on the state Board of Education. She spoke to fellow students about the Voice4Change initiative. (Photos/Dan Woog)
Connecticut’s General Assembly will have a different look after the next election.
Redistricting takes place every 10 years, based on census data and population shifts.
Unlike many states, Connecticut’s reapportionment is done by a panel of 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans. If they can’t agree, a 5th objective member is added. This year, that was unneeded.
Current plans — which will be finalized soon — change district lines for the 2 state senators and 2 representatives who now serve parts of Westport.
Senator Will Haskell’s 26th District currently runs far north. He’ll lose Bethel, but gain a slice of Stamford, connected by a bit of Darien and New Canaan.
The borders of State Representative Jonathan Steinberg’s 136th District have shifted slightly, though it continues to include only Westport. He’s lost some voters in the western part of town. His district still runs all the way to the Fairfield town line.
State Representative Stephanie Thomas’ Norwalk-based 143rd District has changed significantly. She gained some additional voters in Westport and a large number of new voters in Norwalk. They replace Wilton, which has become an entirely new district.
State Senator Tony Hwang’s 28th District has been pushed north, into Bethel. He’ll lose the Greens Farms section of Westport he now represents.
But, Hwang says, “I’ve worked with Jim Marpe, Jen Tooker and Andrea Moore, on projects like Coleytown Middle School and bridge repairs. I’ll always advocate for Westport. Please give my thanks to the terrific people of Westport I’ve been able to represent.”
(For more in-depth information on redistricting, click here, here, here and here. Hat tip: Peter Gold.)
It sounds like a broken record: The Staples High School girls swim tam broke 4 records again.
Wednesday night’s eye-popping performances came at the class LL (extra large schools) state finals at Southern Connecticut State University. Freshman Annam Olasewere rewrote the state and LL record books in 2 freestyle races. The freshman wowed the crowd with a time of 22.67 in the 50 free, breaking the 2016 record of 23.02. She also took the 100 free in record time, with a blistering 50.14.
Staples, which placed 4th overall, also saw 2 relay teams finish first in record times. The 200 freestyle foursome of Jessica Qi, Ella Alpert, Ayaan Olasewere and Annam Oleseree broke the 25-year-old state record, with a time of 1:35.75. Qi, Alpert, Ayaan and Annam Olasewere came back to win the 400 freestyle relay in yet another state record time: 3:28.54.
Up next: the state open meet tomorrow (Sunday) in West Hartford.
Congratulations to coaches Mike Anderson, Elaine Rankowitz and Kuku Fleming. — and of course to the girls! Can you imagine what they’ll accomplish as seniors?!
Staples’ record-setting 400 meter free relay team (from left): Ella Alpert, Annam Olasewere, Ayaan Olasewere, Jessica Qi.
Speaking of swimming: Earlier this month, the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Water Rats swim team ran a food drive. They collected 880 pounds of food — nearly half a ton — for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. Those donations will provide 735 Thanksgiving meals.
Team members also collected $205 in cash, good for 82 more meals.
The entire Water Rats team participated, from pre-competitive swimmers to seniors.
The early bird gets the Westport Country Playhouse summer camp worm.
“Early bird pricing” is available now through December 5 for CampWCP, a social justice theater program for 20 middle school students (June 27 through July 23).
The camp “empowers young artists to activate their creative voice on issues that matter to them and turn it into something theatrical — so that they can ignite social change for their community and beyond.”
Campers explore the art of playwriting, and create and perform an original play. devise their own play. They learn acting techniques, and participate in workshops with Playhouse staff. For details and registration, click here.
And finally … music photographer Mick Rock died recently. He was 72.
Among his subjects: David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Queen, Syd Barrett, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Motley Crue, T. Rex, Blondie and Thin Lizzy. He shot the covers of albums like “Queen II,” Reed’s “Transformer” and “Coney Island Baby,” Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the Stooges’ Raw Power.
He also directed Bowie’s music videos for “I’m Only Dancing,” “Jean Genie,” “Space Oddity” and “Life on Mars.”
Click here for a full obituary. (Hat tip: Amy Schneider)
On Monday night I drove on Hillspoint Road, from the Post Road to the Mill Pond. Just before 10 p.m., I saw 3 separate groups of 2 or 3 teens (or “tweens”) on bikes with no lights heading north, probably from the beach.
It was scary! I want parents to know: Please set your kids’ bikes up with lights. A set of rechargeable white front headlight and red taillight can be ordered through Amazon for under $20. A priceless investment! (Most safety-conscious bicyclists use strobing lights in broad daylight to increase visibility and safety.)
Just a moment of driver inattention or distraction could have tragic consequences. Parents need to know the dangers their kids are facing!
Speaking of politics: As one of the youngest state politicians in the country, 2014 Staples High School graduate (and state senator) Will Haskell often gets calls from students and recent graduates. They ask how to run for office.
He doesn’t have all the answers. But he’s put his thoughts together in a new Simon & Schuster book. “100,000 First Bosses: My Unlikely Path as a 22-Year-Old Lawmaker” describes his 2018 campaign, and first year in the Connecticut Senate.
Haskell’s book goes on sale in January. It’s available for pre-sale now. Click here to order, and for more information.
Beechwood Arts’ most popular annual event returns August 1 (2 to 6 p.m.).
The grounds at 52 Weston Road will be open. That’s fitting. This year’s theme is “Opening Up.” It’s Beechwood’s first full, in-person arts immersion experience since fall of 2019.
The event marks Beechwood’s 10th year. Favorite musical artists from the past will be on hand; there are special arts installations too, along with spontaneous community performances, an outdoor artist market and sculptures, all on Beechwood’s beautiful property.
Artists and performers are welcome to share their talents. Click here for tickets, and more information on how to take part.
The Westport Police has joined the Gillespie Center food pantry drive.
Now through August, residents can drop items off at the Gillespie Center courtyard (behind Don Memo restaurant, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays), or the Westport Police Department lobby, across from the Gillespie Center men’s shelter on Jesup Road (any time, 24/7).
Non-perishable items needed include canned meats, tuna, salmon, Spam, pasta sauces, hot and cold cereals, canned fruits and soups, peanut butter, jelly, pasta, mac and cheese, paper goods and reusable bags.
Questions? Call 203-226-3426, or email email@example.com.
Maya Konig and Kathy Belzer met when their children were in Westport preschool. During the pandemic, they tried to think positively. Their combined love for exploring, experiencing and finding beauty in simple things led them to create Local Luxe Co.
It’s a “gift-giving company.” They source local products from artisans and “emerging makers” throughout the Northeast, and offer them online in seasonal collections. Options include real estate broker closing gifts, and corporate and special events.
Products include environmentally friendly beach bags made from oyster traps, home accessories, eco-friendly wellness and beauty products for adults and tweens, and snacks and drinks.
Among their local partners: The Two-Oh-Three, Allison Daniels Designs, Laurel & Vine and Rustic Ridge.
A portion of proceeds will be given to Breathe4ALS, the foundation started by Westporters Jonathan and Iris Greenfield. (Click here for the Local Luxe Co. website.)
Noted artist Barbara Bernstein died last month, from chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. She was 86.
A colorist whose work evokes the legacy of the French Impressionists, she produced landscapes and interiors in both oils and watercolors. She was a founding member of Art/Place Gallery.
Barbara participated in more than 200 group and national juried shows, and won more than 40 awards. She was a juried artists member of the Connecticut Watercolor Society, Connecticut Women Artists and the New Haven Paint and Clay Club. Her works are in the collections of General Electric Corp. the town of Westport and many others.
Passionate about art and education, she received two graduate degrees, in teaching and education. She taught art in the Westport school system for many years.
Barbara was also known for her commitment to social justice. She participated in the 1963 March on Washington, and protested the wars in Vietnam and Iraq in weekly vigils. She was arrested for civil disobedience while protesting the mining of Haiphong Harbor and escalation of the war in Vietnam.
Barbara was also passionate about travel, often bringing her sketchbooks and watercolors on diverse treks. She traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Central America and New Zealand.
Barbara was preceded in death by her brother Albert and sister Alice. She is survived by her husband Joseph; children Eric, Sara and David; 2 nephews and many cousins.
Services are private. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Planned Parenthood or the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. For information or to sign an online register, click here.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome, appreciated — and tax-deductible! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to “06880”: PO Box 744, Westport, CT 06881. Or use Venmo: @blog06880. Or Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)